The biggest unknown in the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Padres is just how much the San Diego pitchers have left in the tank. They entered the postseason with injuries to Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, their two best starters, and needed every bit of their bullpen to advance to round two.
Clevinger made the roster for the Dodgers series. Lamet did not. But Clevinger’s series is already over.
Clevinger started Game 1 on Tuesday night and got only three outs before he was pulled from the game after apparently aggravating his injured elbow. Clevinger got through the first inning without giving up a run or hit, but he did issue three walks and ended up throwing 24 pitches.
He came back out for the second inning to throw two pitches — his velocity was down and the Padres removed him from the game. A day later, he was off the team’s NLDS roster.
It’s not what you want in the first game of a series against the Dodgers, the top team in MLB this season.
Mike Clevinger out for NLDS, NLCS
The day after Clevinger’s early exit, the Padres seemed to be holding onto some hope that their top starter could return. Manager Jayce Tingler said Clevinger was day-to-day immediately after the game, and one report indicated that pain tolerance was a bigger factor than concern about further injury to a valuable right elbow.
That hope was soon dashed, as the team announced Clevinger had been remove from the NLDS roster and replaced by reliever Dan Altavilla.
RHP Dan Altavilla has replaced RHP Mike Clevinger on the #Padres 28-man NLDS roster.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 7, 2020
Because Clevinger was removed from the NLDS roster due to injury, he will also be ineligible for the NLCS should the Padres defeat the Dodgers.
After coming over to the Padres from Cleveland in a trade and adding an ace-type arm to their rotation, Clevinger suffered a sprained elbow in late September. It wasn’t diagnosed as a UCL injury — which often leads to Tommy John surgery — but Clevinger hasn’t been able to pitch like himself.
In the NL wild-card series, San Diego used nine pitchers in each of their wins against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the game they lost, they used eight. While that shows the Padres can survive without strong outings from their starters, at some point, with that much work, the bullpen isn’t going to hold up.
It will be particularly hard against an opponent like the Dodgers.
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